Feature – March 2017 – LATICRETE International Inc.

The Dean Smith Center wows with locker room renovation

Array of LATICRETE products installed by NTCA Five Star Contractor Neuse Tile Service expedites complex project

For the University of North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball team, the Dean Smith Center isn’t just an arena where games are played – the venue and its locker rooms are an important motivator for players and an invaluable tool for impressing potential recruits.

Sheeted mosaic tiles were installed on the shower floors with LATICRETE 4-XLT mortar over HYDRO BAN®.
Photo credit – Neuse Tile Service

Since it was 15 years since the locker rooms were last updated, the elite team decided it was time for an upgrade that matched its reputation as a breeding ground for many of the sport’s top athletes, including NBA legend Michael Jordan.

The goal of the $5-million locker room renovation was not only to modernize the space, but also to rival those found in top NCAA programs, serving as a point of pride for the athletes as one of the best off-the-court spaces in college basketball.

In addition to expected upgrades to showers and toilets, the extensive renovation also included spaces that maximized the locker room’s use, including a nutrition and beverage station, therapy areas, media room for press conferences and interviews, team meeting and video space, a players’ lounge and separate locker areas for players, coaches and staff.

“With so many wet areas and surfaces that require frequent cleaning, tile installations were a prominent part of the overall project,” said Nyle Wadford, president of Neuse Tile Service, the NTCA Five-Star Contractor chosen for the project. “It was crucial for our team to be able to rely on the performance of LATICRETE® products when dealing with so many different installations on such a multi-faceted project.”

Large-format glass tiles were set on dining room walls with LATICRETE Glass Tile Adhesive, grouted with PERMACOLOR® Select and caulked with LATASIL™.
Photo credit – Neuse Tile Service

The Challenge

The locker room showers are ready for continuous use with LATICRETE HYDRO BAN, 4-XLT mortar and SPECTRALOCK® PRO Grout on floors with PERMACOLOR Select Grout on the walls.
Photo credit – Neuse Tile Service

High Profile – There are few college basketball programs in the country with a reputation as prestigious as UNC, which has earned a top 10 national ranking year after year and produced many NBA athletes. Neuse Tile Service knew from the outset that this facility would double as a recruiting tool and a functioning facility for the basketball team, so the space needed to “wow” visitors while withstanding heavy everyday use.

Tile Availability Due to changes in preferences and long lead times on the materials that were originally specified, the project experienced multiple tile changes. Neuse Tile was called upon to find new sources for products with narrow variance. With each change, hard samples had to be sent out of state for approval from the design team and project committee. Ultimately, Neuse Tile’s relationship with local vendors proved to be crucial in the attempt to provide options that were within design specifications, readily available in the right quantities and the right color of Carolina blue.

LATICRETE HYDRO BAN was carefully applied to make sure the shower updates are long-lasting.
Photo credit – Neuse Tile Service

Tight Timeframe – The entire renovation was limited to just seven months, with an expected completion prior to the start of the 2016 college basketball season. Neuse Tile was only given two months to complete its part in an effort to allot enough time for the other trades to complete theirs as well. Ultimately, the schedule was compressed even more due to the demanding materials selection and approval process, resulting in final completion just hours before the grand opening gala.

A LATICRETE solution

Nearly 6,000 sq. ft. (557 m2) of large-format, glass and mosaic tiles were installed by Neuse Tile during the locker room renovation, each with associated waterproofing and substrate preparation.

LATICRETE products were used in conjunction with various TCNA installation methods to resolve many issues during the construction process. Products were chosen not only for their specific performance – such as LATICRETE 4-XLT being the ideal large-and-heavy tile mortar solution due to its non-sag performance and its shear bond strength – but for how well they worked cohesively to solve the problems at hand. Due to the combination of LATICRETE products chosen, Neuse Tile Service was able to guarantee work done would prove durable and require low maintenance for years to come.

The array of LATICRETE products means showers will perform flawlessly under tough conditions for many years. Photo credit – Neuse Tile Service

Thanks to the rapid-curing formula of the HYDRO BAN® waterproofing product, multiple phases of the work were able to proceed simultaneously with careful coordination. Completed and often concurrent installations included mud-set installations, the use of various membranes, thin-set installations on concrete, large-format glass wall tile, extensive waterproofing, the use of linear drains and preformed niches, and tile installations in the construction of therapy pools. TCNA Methods F113-16, F112-16, F125-Full-16, F115-16, W2021-16, W243-16, W245-16, B420-16 and P602-16 were used.

The array of solutions provided by LATICRETE products and technology proved to be a perfect match for this technically diverse and difficult assembly of installations. Since multiple tile types were used throughout the project, almost every area required different products for installation. Installations ranged from very simple – such as adhering the tile to drywall – to the much more difficult mud-set tile in the pools.

The mosaic floor tiles and large-format wall tiles properly installed with LATICRETE 4-XLT mortar over HYDRO BAN will serve the team for many years to come. All floors were grouted with SPECTRALOCK, and walls with PERMACOLOR Select. Photo credit – Jim Sink Photography

Unique uses of conventional products were also creatively applied to allow design concepts to come to life from sketches and ideas. Multiple uses of decorative and functional profile edgings for everything from floor transitions, bullnose substitutes, mirror trims and channels for low-voltage lighting, added to the creativity this project required, but also to its complexity.


“Our many years of experience, technical knowledge and craftsmanship as a NTCA Five Star Contractor were called upon during this process,” Wadford added. “That, and a great deal of collaboration from the entire construction team, as well as the product solutions from LATICRETE, made this tightly scheduled project a huge success,” he said.

The UNC’s men’s basketball locker room is now considered among the best locker rooms nationwide and continues to be a talking point for the school at large.

The hot and cold spa pools were installed with LATICRETE HYDRO BAN, 3701 Fortified Mortar & 254 Platinum, SPECTRALOCK Grout and LATASIL caulk. The stone on the walls over the spas was installed with LATICRETE 4-XLT. Photo credit – Jim Sink Photography


The entrance granite tiles were installed with LATICRETE 4-XLT mortar over NXT™ Patch with HYDRO BAN as a crack isolation membrane. They were grouted with SPECTRALOCK and caulked with LATASIL.
Photo credit Jim Sink Photography